If you are applying for a K-3 visa to enter the U.S. as the spouse of a U.S. citizen, here is what to expect in the phase between USCIS approval of the Form I-129F visa petition and your interview at the U.S. consulate in your country of marriage.
USCIS will, upon approving the I-129F petition, forward your file to a central processing facility called the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will transfer the case file to the U.S. consulate in the country where you were married. The consulate will then send the immigrant, an Appointment Package containing forms and instructions.
Forms to Send Consulate Ahead of Interview
You may be asked to fill out certain forms and return them to the consulate in preparation for your interview. The forms are likely to include:
- Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application. is a basic form consulates use to test the eligibility of immigrants coming for temporary stays, including not only truly unmarried fiancés, but tourists, students, and others. Don’t be confused by the sections that don’t apply to you—in particular, those demanding that the applicant prove that he or she doesn’t intend to stay in the United States permanently. You’re permitted to stay in the United States permanently (assuming all goes well with your green card application), and you don’t need to hide that fact.
- Form DS-156K. This is a very short form designed to collect some information that Form DS-156 neglected to ask for. In Question 5, be sure to list all of your children, whether or not they are immigrating to the United States. Then check the boxes at the right to tell the consulate whether they are, indeed, immigrating. If they’ll be coming at the same time as you, check the “yes” box on the left. If they’ll follow you some months later, check the “yes” box on the right. You won’t sign this form until your consular interview.
After the consulate receives these forms, it will send you approximately two to four weeks notice of the upcoming interview. The immigrant will receive an appointment date, along with instructions for getting a medical exam and taking care of other last details, and possibly forms (depending on the consulate).
Also, the people handling your case will request a security clearance from every place you’ve lived since age 16. Usually, they simply ask a government office to check its records to see whether you have a police record, and to send notification of what it finds. They will also send your name to be checked against the records of the U.S. FBI and CIA. Assuming your records come back clean, the consulate will move to the next step
To prove that the immigrant is not inadmissible for medical reasons, he or she will have to present the results of a medical exam done by a doctor approved by the U.S. consulate. This is the same type of medical exam you would have to have if you were applying for a marriage-based immigrant visa, except that you won’t be required to complete all your vaccinations until you’re in the United States and applying for your green card.
There will be a fee for the medical exam, usually around $150, but it varies between doctors and countries.
The immigrant, as well as any of children who will be accompanying him or her on K-4 visas, will be asked to provide copies of birth certificates, and to show the originals as well. If these documents are not in English, you will need to provide a word-for-word translation, created and signed by someone competent in both languages.
Proof of Bona Fide Marriage
Some consulates also want to see proof that the immigrant and spouse are truly a married couple—in other words, that you did not get married merely in order to get a green card. Such proof might include copies of your personal letters, emails, phone bills, wedding photos, joint credit card bills, and the like.
Where You Will Take Your K-3 Appointment Package
On the day of the interview, the immigrant will be expected to arrive at the U.S. consulate with forms and documents in hand, according to the instructions. To prepare for the interview, the immigrant will want to read over all the forms and documents and mentally review key facts about the marriage, such as where you met, when and why you decided to get married, when the U.S. spouse's birthday is, your plans for life in the U.S., and so on.
The U.S. citizen is not required to attend this interview, but can. This may help show bona fide marriage, which is an important thing to prove.
Soon after attending the interview and being approved, the consulate will give the immigrant a K-3 visa with which to enter the United States. Ideally you will receive the visa within a few days of your interview, but delays for FBI and CIA security checks dan add weeks to the process, especially for people with common names.
The “visa” will actually be a thick sealed envelope, stuffed full of most of the forms and documents that you have submitted over the course of this process. Once you receive your K-3 visa, you will have six months to enter the United States. The visa will be good for multiple entries to the United States for up to ten years, or in the case of children, for up to the child’s 21st birthday.